Don’t expect Horry County Council to create any policies that will limit development in Carolina Forest.
Just the mention of such an idea last week immediately drew intense— albeit fair — objections from county attorneys, who are fearful of implementing policies that won’t hold up in court.
Some councilmen had hoped to institute a moratorium that would prohibit any rezonings for housing developments in Carolina Forest while several major road projects are being completed, including the widening of Carolina Forest Boulevard.
The legal objections ended that dream.
Despite the lack of a moratorium on rezonings, council members do have other tools for restricting growth, and residents also have options for challenging any projects they worry would be a poor fit for the community.
For starters, the council has the authority to disagree with the recommendations of the Horry County Planning Commission.
Although the council has historically been a rubber stamp for the commission, councilmen Johnny Vaught and Dennis DiSabato have vowed to carefully research each rezoning request, looking at the impact of individual projects on the community and the interests of area homeowners.
And don’t doubt the influence of those residents.
The entire moratorium discussion actually came about because so many locals protested a proposal that went to the planning commission last week.
Initially, a developer wanted to place 615 homes on a 70-acre tract between the former Gander Mountain facility and Canterbury.
Although that request was later lowered to just under 500 housing units, the prospect of so many more people packing little Postal
Way infuriated locals, who stressed the service road couldn’t handle the additional traffic.
So more than 100 residents met with county leaders and dozens of them packed the planning commission’s chamber Thursday to voice their opposition. The commission listened and the proposal will now go the full council with a recommendation for disapproval.
Last’s week’s victory for those opponents should be a sign to other Carolina Forest residents about the power of public pressure.
Their effort underscores the need for residents to pay attention to planning commission and council meeting agendas, attend those meetings and speak out when troubling items come up for debate.
For years, we have criticized Carolina Forest residents for a lackluster showing at the voting booth..In last month’s primary for the S.C. House District 56 seat — the state representative for Carolina Forest and part of Longs — a mere 5 percent of the district’s registered voters bothered to go to the polls.
That kind of engagement won’t generate results. However, as we have seen with the response to the Postal Way backlash, residents who challenge their officials, pack public meetings and demand action can have an impact.
Raising the volume won’t always persuade officials to listen to the community, but they will certainly find an outcry difficult to ignore.